WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID:
“This is a wonderful storied amalgam of North-West Mounted Police and Indian history, woven with intrigue, love and violence … Recommended as a very good read.”
Robert H. Head, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner (rtd)
“Well written! Thorough! … I really enjoyed reading the book. I found it interesting and captivating.”
Cecil E. Burridge, Writer: Ongoing contributor to TALE SPINNERS
“It has all the elements of both action and romance … THE LONG RIDE is a must read … an engaging work of fiction … page-turning vibrancy and excitement …”
Colleen Wilson, Host of SHORTCUTS, Global TV
What THE LONG RIDE is about
The 1890s: Starting in Canada, Sergeant Don Roman of the North-west Mounted Police, and native-American Jim Longfeather find themselves moving southward all the way into the Arizona Territory. Their journeys are separate.
Longfeather is fleeing to avoid being brought to justice for having aided an outlaw friend; Sergeant Roman is a captive of mysterious abductors who transport him locked up in an enclosed wagon together with a naked woman called Meadow.
In the Arizona Territory Longfeather and Roman meet and become close friends as they fight shoulder to shoulder in a bizarre and momentous challenge that may hold the fate of the Southwest in the balance.
A difficult romance struggles to bloom between Meadow and Jim Longfeather; but Longfeather is still running from the law, and it is Sergeant Roman’s duty to bring his best friend to justice.
For a sneak preview of this book read the sample pages below:
PART ONE: BLOOD BROTHERS
SERGEANT DON ROMAN of the North-West Mounted Police stepped out of his saddle into a mixture of crisp snow and frozen horse manure in front of the police-station stable. He handed the reins of his black gelding to a young constable who was on chore duty.
Normally Roman fed and groomed his own horses–he had two of them–but he had been told that Commissioner Bancroft was in a bad mood about something and didn’t want to make things worse by keeping him waiting any longer than necessary. So, as the constable led the horse into the barn, Roman was already walking briskly toward the log station building.
He had been on a routine patrol only about three miles away when another officer, on his way to his own duties, had intercepted him and delivered the verbal message that Roman was to cut his patrol and ride back to headquarters in the frontier village of Duck Lake to see their disgruntled superior.
Sergeant Roman was tall for men of his day in this winter of 1894; he was just a shade over six feet in his boots, and he entirely looked the part of an officer in the North-West Mounted Police force. Even his shaggy buffalo coat and fur cap could not smother the soldierlike straightness of his athletic body. His poster boy clean shaven face, like the rest of him, also seemed to be grimly standing at attention, for it was not allowed to slouch or become involved in any sort of frivolous or out-of-control expressions.
Yet some who knew Roman wondered if all this rigidity was a façade; for the sergeant had a reputation for being a soft-hearted old grandma who wouldn’t step on a spider if he could avoid it, who had been seen to cry tears at the reunion of a mother and child, and who could absorb insults like a floor mop absorbs water, and without ever sloshing any of it back at his abuser.
Had he been in the army instead of in this amazing frontier police force, he might not have fared so well; for his softness and self control in the face of insults might have been mistaken for weakness. But in the force the men were actually trained to not react emotionally to anything; and this had often stood them in good stead in touchy situations with renegade Indians and bootlegging white men. In time, the history of the red-coats would be well sprinkled with cases in which one or two police officers stood outnumbered and refused to react to provocation. And their enemies, in the face of such seeming confidence and fearlessness, would generally hold off their attacks long enough to allow the heat of their anger to be replaced by the common-sense knowledge that these outnumbered poker-faced red-coats, had, after all, the strength and resources of a nation backing them. Sergeant Don Roman was a master of this non-reaction technique.
The nation was Canada, the area was the Northwest Territories (a part of it that would later become the province of Saskatchewan), and the little frontier town of Duck Lake was situated on the well-traveled Carlton Trail that led from Fort Garry farther east to Fort Edmonton to the west. Fort Carlton had also been on this route less than a day’s ride west of Duck Lake, but only nine years ago, in 1885, this fort had been burned to the ground during the brief Metis rebellion led by Louis Riel.
Don was already unbuttoning his coat before he got to the Commissioner’s door. He wasn’t about to enter and then stand there beside a red-cheeked stove waiting for “Ornery Oliver” to give him permission to remove his coat. So, after he knocked and heard a disgruntled sounding “Enter!” he didn’t even look toward the desk area before taking off his coat and fur cap. He hung them on wall pegs, then turned to face Commissioner Oliver Bancroft, making sure to look very soldierly, erect, and respectful as he did so.
“Sir!” said Don crisply. He was not required to salute, but he made sure there was plenty of “salute” in his voice. “I was told to come in at once to report to you, sir.”
Commissioner Bancroft was five-five in his heels, and no one seemed to know how he had made it into the force in spite of his small size and large defects of character. And he had gone on from there to beat and boot his way up through the ranks to become the Commissioner of the Duck Lake detachment.
When he was angry, Bancroft always made Don think of a little firecracker that had gone off but was still standing on end with it’s top part blackened. This was due not only to his dark hair and large black mustache, but to the thundercloud rage in his weather-beaten face that drew the features together into a murderous focal point somewhere around the opening under his mustache–an opening that appeared ready to spew out no end of fire and verbal cannon balls. On his good days he generally looked a little angry, but today he was definitely a firecracker. Too inflamed to be seated, he stood there behind his desk and just glared at Don for a moment. And for the millionth time, Don wondered at how Bancroft was the exact opposite of everything the force stood for, including its reputation for not reacting emotionally to stressful situations.
“Took you bloody long enough to get here!” said Bancroft.
“I had already ridden to a point well past Frenchie’s cabin,” said Don calmly. “I turned back as soon as I got your–”
“What the hell were you riding?–a cow? All right, you’re here, so now listen.” Bancroft stepped toward his chair now, but his movement from standing behind the rough wooden table-desk to sitting in the winged chair appeared to be some sort of acrobatic stunt that might have cracked a normal man’s spine; but Bancroft didn’t even seem to take a breath before he ranted on. “The Indian situation around here is going out of control, just as I’ve been warning for months!”
“I’m sorry to hear it, sir,” said Roman, knowing well enough what kind of reaction he’d get to that.
“You’re sorry to hear it! You should be the one telling me! You’re out on patrol every day!–and I have to tell you that there’s trouble brewing with those powwowing pemmican pukers?!”
“Any in particular that you’re referring to, sir? And do you mind if I sit down?”
“I’m referring to the whole bloody works of them!… and to one in particular…. All right, get your ass on a chair if that’ll help you to listen.”
Sergeant Roman scraped a chair from one side of the small room to a position nearer the desk–not that he wanted to be closer to Bancroft’s spewing hot saliva, but it seemed like the respectful thing to do. Bancroft waited for him to be seated before he continued his verbal attack on red men and red-coats alike. “The one in particular is John Pinetree, and if you and the men under you had only one eye for every three of you, you would have seen long ago that Pinetree is a first class trouble maker!”
“He drinks and get into the occasional fight–” began Don, but again was cut off by his superior.
“He preaches rebellious redskin propaganda!–that’s what he does! And last night he induced his village to have a war dance! If you and the men under you can’t see where that’s going … your eyes must have gotten mixed up with your balls! So maybe you should flick out your balls, just for a moment, and have a good look around!”
“I’ll do whatever’s required,” said Roman, trying hard to keep from smiling but not being entirely successful.
“Don’t get smart-assy with me,” said Bancroft, yet his fury seemed to be subsiding a bit. “Now, I want an end to this easy-going Indian-lover shit. You’re supposed to be the head sergeant here, so I want you to start acting like one.”
“What do you want me to do, sir?”
“For a starter go have a talk with Pinetree. Lay it on heavy. Let him know he can’t mess around and make trouble and get away with it. Let him know that you’ve got a big boot and he’s the horse turd that’s gonna get kicked around if he doesn’t smarten up.”
Bancroft was so far out of line that Don knew it was useless to remind him that the work of the North-West Mounted Police was to protect everyone by keeping the peace–through diplomacy rather than confrontation as much as possible. Maybe, thought Don, the time had come to get some of the men together to secretly discuss the matter of Bancroft’s near-insanity, and maybe deliver a letter, signed by as many officers as possible, to headquarters at Regina. Still, that was tricky, because there probably wasn’t enough solid evidence to make a convincing case to the top brass who always tended to take the side of higher rank over lower. Without a totally sound case against the commissioner the accusers could end up getting court marshaled themselves.
The seeming firecracker smoke around Bancroft’s head cleared a little more and he looked almost like a human being as he said, “From now on, Sergeant, I want a personal report from you once a week, every Saturday, telling me everything that John Pinetree has been up to that week…. And when we have enough on him we’ll make our move. Now, get out of here, ride to his village and give him a talking to. Then organize some way of keeping track of him–you don’t have to do it all yourself. Take turns watching him. When he goes to town, have a man out of uniform, or more than one so he doesn’t get suspicious, keeping close to him and seeing who he chums around with and what they talk about. You might have to hire one of the half-breeds who can speak Cree. We have some funds that can be used for that…. All right, Sergeant, are you clear on everything I’ve said?”
“All right, then, I want you to report to me tonight after you’ve had your talk with Pinetree. And on Saturday I want a full report on what you’ve set up to keep track of the blighter’s doings…. You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, sir, thank you.” Sergeant Roman got to his feet, stood straight for a moment, then turned and put on his coat and cap. He left the office and walked back toward the barn on the narrow path of hard packed snow.
The overcast day was moderately cold for winter, and the low hanging clouds looked menacing even though they didn’t appear to be snow clouds. These bulging forms looked more as though faces might appear in them at any moment and scream out orders for Indians and white men to go to war. A fantasy, yes; nevertheless, Don knew that Duck Lake and a wide surrounding area had a serious and threatening problem. The combination of John Pinetree and Commissioner Bancroft was a wagonload of gunpowder waiting to be ignited.
Roman shivered in his buffalo coat. Snowflakes began to fall.
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